(Patrick Vieira – USA Today Sports)
New York City Football Club Head Coach Patrick Vieira, in his first year at the helm, is looking to improve is the team’s defense.
This is nothing new for NYC FC, as they routinely gave up three goals a game last year.
The defense has been revamped with newcomers like Frederic Brillant, Diego Martinez, Shannon Gomez, and Ethan White.
NYC FC is coming off a 1-0 loss to Orlando City last Friday at Yankee Stadium. They have surrendered six goals in their first three games this season, in which they have one win (at Chicago, 4-3, on March 6), one tie (2-2 vs. Toronto March 13), and one loss, to Orlando City.
Vieira addressed the issue in a media conference call ahead of Saturday afternoon’s game against New England at Yankee Stadium.
In a damning statement about his team’s defense, Vieira said, “There’s a lot of goals that we concede I think was more our mistakes than anything else.”
Vieira also stressed that defense concerns all 11 players on the field, not just defenders.
Vieira said of keeping the attack compact to help the defense and not conceding as much at home, “It’s about the feel of the team that the coach wants to have. I strongly believe that there should be a coordination between the players and the players should understand what is their role and responsibility when the ball is moving. Especially the way we want to play, it’s important to look at each other’s movements and I believe less space there is between the line, the better it is for the team.
“When you look at the games we have played so far and the goals we have conceded, I think there’s a lot of goals that we give away than the position played well. There’s a lot of goals that we concede I think was more our mistakes than anything else, so this is why I believe that we have to improve that side of our game – but it’s not just about the defender, it’s about the whole team, how we organize ourselves when we don’t have the ball.”
NYC will be without Mix Diskerud, Ronald Matarrita, and Khiry Shelton, who were called for international duty.
Vieira said of not having three of his starters, “Yeah, I think it’s never easy to lose three players for international break, but that is something that we will prepare because, when you look at the possibility of the players going to international and looking at the league, we knew a few of our players would be called up to go to international, so we will prepare for it, so it’s not a surprise.”
“To the question of whether MLS should not schedule games while there are international games set up, Vieira said, “I think it’s quite a little bit disappointing that we have to play the game knowing that it’s international week and especially knowing that there would only be three games as well, but that is the way it is and we have to deal with it. I think the best options will be for all the teams to have their best players not go to international and play the game, but of course, international is international. We can’t stop them from going to international, so maybe the best and the easiest one is to stop the three games and just players going to international,” said Vieira.
On what Vieira has seen in training this week from players that will have to step up with the three players’ absence, “I have a group of 28, 29 players. Having three players go to international, the players know it will be an opportunity for them to show their qualities. It will all be depending on training this week, and we had a really good week where you had players fighting for a spot in the starting 11, and this is what I want, this is what I expect for them.
“Obviously, having these three players away, some of the players who have not started any of the games, will start the game ad I think it will be really good for them to show what they can do. On the other side, I think it’s really good to have options because to play the game, they can show what they are capable of doing, and that is good for them because you get the time. It was really difficult for me to make a decision regarding how well some of the players have been doing, so those players will have an opportunity to play on Saturday and I’m really pleased for them.”
Vieira said of how he will use his players with a two-week break following Saturday’s game, and if he factors in things like giving players with injuries extra rest, “No, not at all, not at all. We didn’t have any plan because we know that we have the break after the game on Saturday so we will prepare for the two weeks with no games and, during these two weeks, some of the players will get back from injury. We will organize a game for the players that didn’t play much (vs. New England).
“We are prepared and we are not surprised about the call-up for the international, the break we’re going to have, and we will have games planned for those players that didn’t play a lot in the three to four games.”